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Old 12-28-2007, 12:35 PM   #1
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Hot Water Heater Switch or Meter??


Hello,

I could use some help with a hot water heater issue. My water heater quit working and upon further investigation I was only getting 10 volts to the heater. I traced the wires back to the pannel and they went out of the pannel into this switch/meter type looking box outside of the pannel (see attachment). The wires then came back into the pannel to the breaker. I bypassed this switch/meter all together and went right to the pannel to get the water heater working again. Can anyone tell me what this box is and if i need to go through it again? Thanks for any help!
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Old 12-28-2007, 02:31 PM   #2
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Hot Water Heater Switch or Meter??


Are you subscribing to a plan with your power company whereby you get a lower price per kilowatt hour in exchange for the company being able to kill the power to the heater at certain hours of the day?

That gadget looks like something that would control the water heater circuit for such a purpose, using some remote control mechanism, either using an audio signal superimposed on the power line, or some radio control. Are there any other wires coming out of that cylindrical box?

The upper object in the box is a relay, that would activate or kill the water heater circuit. The lower object is a transformer, similar to a doorbell transformer, that provides a low voltage to operate the relay. The little objects on the sides look like fuses. There must be some other, electronic, circuitry although the latter could be somewhere else or might even be too small to identify in the picture.


Last edited by AllanJ; 12-28-2007 at 02:39 PM.
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Old 12-28-2007, 02:35 PM   #3
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Hot Water Heater Switch or Meter??


No we are not subscribing to any plan with the power company; this device was in the house when we purchased it. I agree though it does look like some kind of metering/controlling device from the power company.
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Old 12-28-2007, 02:57 PM   #4
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Hot Water Heater Switch or Meter??


It's an off peak use timer. Possibly it needs resetting. In their heyday, the 2-pole circuit would run to the heater as 3-wires. One pole on one leg of your service hot all times, the opposite pole was split into two legs - one on a timer switch which fed your lower element, and the other hot all times which fed the upper element on the heater.

The lower element would be energized only during off-peak times to reheat the entire tank. During the peak daytime period only the upper 1/3 of the tank could be reheated, enough for dishwashing, handwashing, maybe a load of laundry but not all 3, and recovery time would be slow. This arrangement requires a compatible water heater.
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Old 12-28-2007, 03:04 PM   #5
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Hot Water Heater Switch or Meter??


Thanks for the help! I just called the power company and inquired about it and that is what it is. The previous owners had that installed and failed to cancel it or inform us of it when we got the house.

Interestingly though how you described how it is supposed to be hooked up isnít how this one was. Right before we purchased the home the previous owners replaced the water heater and they did not have it hooked up the way you have described.

Thanks again for the help
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Old 12-28-2007, 06:46 PM   #6
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Hot Water Heater Switch or Meter??


I get service calls all the time on load controllers. People generally have no idea they have them. Generally the will drop out the A/C, W/H, washer and dryer if you hit your peak.

They are also generally installed non code compliant with undersized conductors, switching one leg.
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Old 12-28-2007, 08:14 PM   #7
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Hot Water Heater Switch or Meter??


For some power companies, the time switch controlled the entire water heater in which case there were just the two hot conductors for the 240 volts running from the heater to the relay/switching unit.

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